Is Homeschooling Right For Your Child?

I am thinking about homeschooling my child, but I am torn. Can you share your opinion?

Question:

I believe that homeschooling is an excellent choice for many families. But it doesn't work for everyone. Here are some of my observations. I hope they help with your decision making.

One advantage of homeschooling is that you have the opportunity to create an optimum learning environment for you child. You can tailor the curriculum to meet your child's specific needs, interests and development. School systems consider standards and determine how they will teach those standards. With homeschooling, you may be required to teach the same standards, but you'll have the freedom to choose how and when those skills are taught. Many parents find it fun to design lessons and seek out learning opportunities. They spend a great deal of time looking for people who can help teach their children a specific skill and exchanging ideas with other parents who are homeschooling.

To homeschool effectively, I believe that parents need to educate themselves as well. It is not enough to know the content a child should learn at each grade level. It's equally important to understand how children learn at different ages. Knowing how children learn can help you and your child to experience greater success. Also, schools are beginning to focus on "effective effort." Not all effort on the part of teachers and students equals learning. Both educators and learners need to be able to differentiate between effective learning strategies and methods that get in the way or even prevent learning. (You may remember a time when you applied great effort and still experienced failure.)

As you may have discovered, some children welcome guidance from their parents. Others resist it. Many parents sign their children up for swimming or music lessons because they know that other adults will have greater success teaching their children than they will. This is so for a number of reasons. For one, it is hard to straddle the roles of teacher and parent. For another, they may have a different learning style than their children. I am an auditory learner. That means that I both learn and tend to teach by talking. However, one of my children is a visual learner and the other is a kinesthetic learner. I have to keep this in mind at all times when helping them to grasp new concepts.

If you are seriously considering homeschooling, talk to other parents who have been at it for a while. Research the requirements and organizations in your area. Some public and private schools have grown more accepting of homeschooling and offer support services. In those communities children can sign up for one or two school courses, use the school library or have access to the computer lab. There are also terrific books available now for the homeschooler. The How is My ____Grader Doing in School? series presents activities for a full year's math, reading and writing curriculum at each grade level.

In addition, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you find great satisfaction in learning and in learning with your child?
  • Do you enjoy reaching out to others in your community? Will you be able to find the learning opportunities and social groups that your child will need?
  • Are you organized? Do you like planning? Are you disciplined enough to adhere to a learning schedule?
  • Do you mind spending the lion share of your time at home with your children?
  • Are you patient and flexible? Are you willing to try new activities until you find methods that work for your child?

Homeschooling is not always easy, but it can be tremendously gratifying. I wish you all the best in determining what is best for you and your child.

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